Houthis Claim Ballistic Missile Attack on U.S.-Crewed Boxship

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On Tuesday, U.S. forces successfully defended a Maritime Security Program boxship from Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden.

The U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed vessel Maersk Yorktown was under way, escorted by destroyers USS Laboon and USS Mason, when Houthi fighters targeted her with an anti-ship ballistic missile. The munition was engaged and destroyed, and no injuries or damage were reported. 

Central Command said Tuesday that Yorktown was the likely target of the attack, and Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree confirmed it on Wednesday evening. 

Saree also claimed that Houthi fighters had targeted the boxships MSC Darwin and MSC Gina. It is the second time that Houthi leaders have claimed an attack on the latter vessel, which has been calling at several ports in the Gulf of Aden and Oman.  

The Houthi group claims that it is motivated to attack vessels linked to Israel or to Israel’s allies, citing the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The group consistently describes MSC-operated ships as “Israeli” for uncertain reasons; one of MSC’s owners was born in Haifa, but the firm itself is based in Switzerland and the founder is Italian. 

According to vessel data firm Windward, voyages in the Red Sea operated by the top six ocean carriers dropped by 50 percent in the first quarter because of persistent Houthi attacks. Maersk and MSC still transit the general area about 70-80 times a month, according to Windward’s analysis. 

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